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Moore's Law, Automobiles, On-line Evolution

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Mar. 1st, 2008 | 05:28 am

I am finding that trying to buy a new car is pretty damn confusing at this point.

Take a look at the Air Car.

Air is free!

(Not though the compressor...)

But do I want a hybrid?

How about a VW which I can run bio diesel in?

Size matters. A car that seats only two has limited reach for economy (aka how often will you have to take two cars instead of one?). Most trips are just by myself.

A car with batteries you need to justify with being able to drive enough to make good use of the batteries over the life of the car. I for instance drive less then three thousand miles per year, so I suspect the net for me on a hybrid will be pretty damn bad.

The choices for a new car just keep multiplying.

They are getting better more quickly.

Suddenly I find myself wondering if this is not like buying a computer. With a computer you buy at the moment you need.

Moore's law makes me aware that if I wait six months everything will have changed. With the radical changes going on in automobile production I am wondering what the law of change in that industry is.

The automobile industry has never seen rapid change before, not on the level we see in computer manufacturing (the old joke of "What if Microsoft was to build a car comes to mind...").

What does this mean for me as a consumer?

This is very confusing. I want to optimize around a combination of "good for the environment" and "easily fits into city driving".

I also care about how much energy went into building the vehicle. Thus far I have had near zero luck figuring this out.

And... if automobiles are increasing rapidly from a technology stand point, what does this mean for me as someone who holds onto cars? I've been keeping car for about eight years. Whatever I buy today will be radically old in eight years.

Can I find a car that will be upgradable?

Think of this from the standpoint of a phone. An iPhone constantly has new software delivered to it, so it stays relevant longer. My old phone never got updated. It was a pain to flash it with new software so I never bothered. The staying power of the iPhone will be in part credited long term to the fact that it kept evolving once it was purchased.

How do I find a car which will do the same? If someone develops a new algorithm for adjusting timing that will gain me extra gas mileage how will get that?

I'm not paying for an upgrade, but... I might pay for a subscription if there is real value in it.

Brady Forest showed me yesterday a GPS called Dash. If I understood him correctly it gets its information on-line.

What has been my fear of buying a GPS? That it would go out of date or have some complicated system for updates. I want a GPS that always has current information.

Looking at what cars are available today, I feel like they are all dinosaurs waiting to hit the scrap bin in a couple of years.

Everything is either alpha or beta at this point.

And as betas go, they are early at best.

The lifespan of a car is decreasing rapidly. I want to be sure that what I buy has a low cost for manufacture, and a low cost to recycle.

The overall lifespan of my cars has been about 20 years.

Like computers pass through usefulness, I know that the next car I buy is likely to to be viable for only 10 years. Fuel costs, environmental costs... they add up.

Ten years may be optimistic.

The best target for me is probably something used that I can extend the life of. Something which does reasonably well today.

I also know that like a computer, I should not spend an ounce of time on what to buy until I am going to buy.

Because like computers, cars are changing rapidly.

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Comments {5}

Chrisb

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from: suddenlynaked
date: Mar. 1st, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Have you checked out the Carver three wheelers? Sue really wants one...

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inanna

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from: inanna
date: Mar. 2nd, 2008 05:56 am (UTC)
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i do like that the Aircar can be hybrid with biodiesel - so best of both worlds.

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awfief

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from: awfief
date: Mar. 3rd, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
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Given Moore's law and given that you keep a car for 8 years, I'm surprised you haven't just said "screw it" by now.

Because whatever you have *will* be old in 8 years. The iPhone gets more software, but the reason computers (which I keep around 3 years) and cars suffer from this problem is because the real efficiencies you want are more efficient hardware. For instance, the most important improvement in cars in the past 8 years is fuel efficiency. Sure, I can upgrade a music system, but I still have a tape deck (in a 2001 car) and use my iPod with a tape adapter. No way can I get 35 mpg though. :(

So the question is, what do you really want to be able to do with a new car that you couldn't do previously? My list includes things like "heated seats" and luxuries such as that, other than the "fuel efficiency" argument.

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Used cars and allocating build/recycle costs

from: dmarti
date: Mar. 3rd, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
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So if you, say, keep a computer until it's 3 years old and a car until it's 8 years old, then buy a 5-year-old car. Since most of its value will have been depreciated you can allocate most of the environmental costs of the build to the first owner.

But if you only drive 3000 miles/yr, what about Zipcar or Flexcar?

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: Used cars and allocating build/recycle costs

from: krow
date: Mar. 8th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
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The sad truth of the matter is that I am willing to pay for the convenience of having a car at my disposal :(

When I want to go somewhere, I go somewhere.

Zipcar.. Seattle had Flexcar until recently. I am hearing some things about about Zipcar that makes me less inclined to use them. Namely around pricing, and friendliness.

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